My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

 Leslie from Washington

Let me start off by saying I was NOT one of those people who have "always dreamed of having braces." In fact, the news that I needed them came as quite a shock to me. My teeth are very straight with no gaps or teeth overlapping. However, over time, my top teeth have moved in until they are now nearly straight causing wear on my lower teeth to the point that I was given two choices - get braces or eventually cap several teeth (which is the much more expensive option).

I managed to push this subject from my mind for six months or so, but at my most recent dental appointment, I again was gently nagged about my need for braces.

I made the appointment and went through the process. (You can read other people's First Day stories which are much more thorough in detailing the steps. I'm going to skip ahead a bit.)

Although I had some anxiety about how I would look afterwards, I wasn't quite prepared for the shock when I looked in the mirror. Thankfully, I had opted for the clear brackets. (Which are so worth the extra money, in my opinion!) When I bared a grin in the mirror, I could hardly believe what I saw. Suddenly I went from looking 31 to about 14. And not in a good way. To make matters worse, the wire was not straight across but dipped down much lower in front and did not look even. When I inquired about that, the assistant said, "Well, the wire would be straight if your teeth were straight, but if that were the case, you wouldn't be here." I think she thought she was funny but I wasn't laughing. The orthodontist could tell I was a bit distraught and tried to console me. I mumbled something and walked in a daze to my car.

I called my husband (who was one of those lucky people who had his braces when you're SUPPOSED to have them - when he was a pimply-faced teenager.) I told him I was going to drive over and show him my new look. Apparently, he found my "new look" to be fairly humorous and could hardly talk between his chuckles. I, on the other hand, was not amused. I drove away tearfully wondering why I had ever decided to do this to begin with.

I headed to a local grocery store/deli to pick up some lunch and was sure everyone was staring at me. I felt like I talked funny and that my lips didn't close over the brackets. All that sounded good for lunch was soup and pudding. Yum!

I headed back to the office and, lest you think my husband a terrible ogre, I must disclose that he delivered balloons and flowers to make up for his insensitivity! The rest of the day, I was very self-conscious about talking face-to-face with any of our clients, but as the afternoon wore on, I got over some of my self-consciousness.

By evening, I was ready for a meal, but cottage cheese and applesauce were all that I could chew. I felt like my teeth were meeting in different spots and that I couldn't chew anything with my back teeth at all. At one point, I was so irritated with the brackets on my teeth, I had the most uncontrollable urge to want to rip them right off with my bare hands. Two more years of this? I took a sedative and went to sleep.

The next couple of days were much the same except the inside of my mouth began to feel VERY raw from rubbing over the brackets. I found some Baby Orajel in our medicine cabinet and applied it liberally along with the wax that came in my ortho kit. What was a life-saver. I also started to experiment with eating different things, getting a littler braver at every meal. One evening, I even took my kids to McDonald's. (My boss had teased that I looked so much younger now that teenage boys would start hitting on me. Imagine my surprise when one of the teenage cashiers struck up a conversation with me while he was on his supper break. I realized how young he was when he went on to "impress me" with details of his car and its amazing stereo! He disappeared quickly when my husband showed up!)

By about the fifth day, I found that there were actually several times that I completely forgot about the braces. Ah! A glimmer of hope that things were getting better!

It is now a month later and I just went in for a wire change (Apparently the orthodontist and his staff had a pot of money going that I would call to have the braces removed before now. I assured them I have come to grips with my new look, but I do wonder who won the bet.)

The best advice I followed was taking Advil or Tylenol before going in. The pressure of the new wire on my teeth is steady and somewhat annoying but certainly bearable.

So, to sum up, to all of you who have taken the plunge, I commend you. And to all of you who haven't yet - just get it over with. It's probably not as bad as you think - and if it is, at least you'll get to write a great story about it!

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